Handshake across the Ocean

Handshake across the Ocean
06.09.2021

On 28 August 2021 the International Forum/Teleconference "Handshake across the Ocean" was held by the NArFU British Center as part of celebrations of the 80th anniversary of Dervish Convoy arrival in Arkhangelsk.

The Forum took place in the trading floor of the Arkhangelsk Museum of Local History on the occasion of opening of an exposition on the first of the Arctic Convoys arrival on 31 August 1941. 19 representatives from Russia, Canada, USA, Australia, Norway, Great Britain - World War II Allies - took part in the International Forum. Valentina Golysheva, British Centre Director, Evgeniy Meltsev, staff member of the Museum, and Natalia Shpanova, Museum Director, moderated the International Forum. Deborah Bronnert, British Ambassador to Russia at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and John Forman, UK Defence Attaché, Embassy of the Great Britain in Russia, opened the Forum. They gave a welcome address and congratulated the participants on the 80th anniversary of Dervish in Arkhangelsk. Some officials from countries of the anti-Hitler coalition took part in the Forum: Steinar Engeset, Chair of the Convoy Cup Foundation, Nil Daffit, Chair of the Portland Committee, Maine, USA. Australia was represented by Tony Tossel, Lecturer of Melbourne Club of the Arctic Convoys. Chris Connolly, former Defence Attaché in Moscow, represented a museum in Loch Ewe (Scotland), that he supervised since 2020. Adrian Uweit, administrator of the website "Arctic Convoys - Forgotten Heroes", Lester (England); Anna Makkessok, Chair of the Russian Convoy Club in Dandy (Scotland); John Mackey, English writer, shared his impressions of national celebrations of the Dervish 80th anniversary in Britain. Daughters, sons and grandchildren of the veterans of the Arctic Convoys took part in the Forum as well. They shared their stories about the heroes - veterans of Russian Convoys.

The highlight of the International Forum was the meeting with Arnold Wilkinson, veteran, navigator in the 813th Bomber Aviation Regiment of the British Army Air Corps. Arnold has just turned 97, but he remembers those tragic events of the week-long battle in Norwegian waters in 1944 perfectly well. Back then his crew protected Convoy RA-62, that followed from Murmansk, against the German U-boats and aircraft. It was the very battle, during which on 13 December his crew sank German submarine U-365.

Scottish marine artist Jim Ray also participated in the Forum. At the request of Valentina Golysheva, NArFU British Centre Director, he created 3 paintings, dedicated to the tragedy in the Kara sea on 12 August 1944, when German submarine U-365 attacked Convoy BD-5 and sank the Marina Raskova transport ship and minesweepers t-118 and t-114. The total loss of life was 378 people. Jim Ray donated 24 paintings to the Arkhangelsk Museum of Local History. They were placed on exhibition on Arctic Convoys of World War II.

The participants of the International Forum thanked the NArFU British Centre and the staff of the Museum of Local History for the opportunity to communicate with people of Arkhangelsk and take part in the celebrations of the Dervish anniversary.

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